The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN student aspires to make a difference in kids’ lives

Elsa Tejada, a 20-year-old child and adolescent development major, stands in front of Buchanan Street Elementary School, where her volunteering helped her see that she was making a difference. Photo Credit: Andres Aguila / Daily Sundial

After graduation, Elsa Tejeda sees herself 3,000 miles away in New York City where she plans to take her passion for teaching elementary students with autism.

The junior, child and adolescent development major, believes that special needs children need a lot of visual work and undivided attention to help them learn better. But she doesn’t mind being busy when it comes to teaching kids, its something she said comes natural.

“I guess I’m just a kid at heart,” she said.

Tejada has had plenty of time to test out her career choice. She volunteered in a special education class and described it as the best experience.

“There’s a lot to do and help them with,” Tejada said. “There isn’t really a moment where you can just sit back and relax during instruction time.”

Child development courses have taught her how children develop mentally and socially and she’s able to make connections and apply them when she’s around kids, she said.

While volunteering in a pre-kindergarten class, Tejeda was able to apply what she had learned with a student who was having trouble reading.

“I’d sit there with him and guide him and every time he’d get a hang of it he’d have a big smile on and say thanks,” Tejeda said.  “Just seeing how proud he was of himself made me feel good.”

On one occasion, she interviewed her first grade teacher as part of a college class and found motivation and reassured her she was on the right path.

“She told me she wasn’t surprised that I was going to actually stick to teaching because as a kid in her class, she said I wouldn’t mind helping my peers,” Tejada said.

Tejada said she lives in the library, and helps take care of her nieces and nephews when she goes home on weekends.

“I do appreciate the education I get from my classes, but there’s nothing like getting real life experience when it comes to taking care of kids,” Tejada said.

Her experience made her feel like she was a part of something bigger than herself, she said. And she  made a real connection with the kids.

“They are entertaining,” Tejada said. “And too many people underestimate their abilities and level of knowledge.”

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